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John Collins

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  1. Tony, I have looked at the Portuguese version of the site but this offers no further information (I speak Portuguese, a necessity for playing the repertoire and reading treatises and articles both from Portugal itself and its former colonies). If you do get any further info in Portuguese please send me a private message and I'll be very happy to discuss translations with you. In the meantime I'll ask my colleague in Lisbon whether he has a contact in Rio whom I can then approach for further details. John
  2. Yes, the "correct" interpretation of ornamentation is a major problem, especially for those who are still entrenched in the attitude of if it isn't marked in the score then it should not be played. François Couperin (1668-1733 and mcuh admired by Bach) wrote in the preface to his 3rd book of harpsichord pieces that people were playing his pieces without observing the most careful indication of ornamenst and that this practice must cease!!! Almost certainly an exception. Don't forget that Georg Muffat was one of the earliest to compose in both the French, German and Italian styles. The carefully codified tables from the 17th century onwards from France and Germany of ornament symbols and their interpretation tend towards an agreement between the various composers, but in ENgland during the 18th century there is so much confusion, for example one sign may have up to 6 different interpretations from different method-book authors (none of the three main treatises of the late 18th century offer any advice on ornamentation). Siegbert Rampe has mentioned that trills in Hamburg began on the main note well into the 1720s, and certainly the trills in the 17th century German contrapuntal pieces and Toccatas should follow the Italian model of commecing on the main note. Returning to Böhm, none of the MSS are autograph, and the Walther MSS are notoriously heavily ornamented using many French signs subsequently used by Bach in his table for WF. Another contentious issue is whether to play on or before the beat, the written-out evidence offers scanty clues, especially the early 16th century English composers. I still have great difficulty in getting my college students to play Iberian pieces with any sense of style - but that is another matter! Ultimately there is still a responsibility for today's performer to approach performance practice from a standpoint of historical awareness and to decide which of the treatises one will follow (wheer there is one!). Happy days and enjoy all the research.
  3. Late reply here! There are far fewer weddings at my church than there used to be some years ago (the all-inclusive civil ceremony/reception at various local venues) but when the couple show some interest in the music for the recessional they are offered one of the Sonatas or Tocatas para Clarins by Francesc Mariner (1720-89, alas no modern edition) or Antonio Mestres, or a Sonata for Trumpet by one of the Italians such as Gerolamo Pera, Giuseppe Gonelli or Giuseppe Aleotti who wrote at least three. All of these make lots of noise!! Quite popular still for an exit is Handel's Hornpipe in D from the Water Music. During the signing of the register and interminable photos I tend to play through a sereis of toccatas or ciaconas by Pachelbel as well as some of the many 18th century Italian sonatas that are light and bright, which are usually well appreciated by those who listen!
  4. Many thanks indeed to Nigel and to VH for quoting extensively from Marsh, Blewitt and Linley. These treatises, along with the voluntaries appended to them for practical application, are all available in excellent modern editions, and should be required reading for all who play the Georgian Voluntaries. The Marsh is edited by Greg Lewin and the Blewitt and Linley by David Patrick of Fitzjohn music. David and Greg, along with Geoffrey Atkinson of Fagus Music, have published modern editions of the majority of the collections of voluntaries published from ca 1728-1858 by English composers; there is much fine music (along with some less than fine pieces as well, of course) in these books, and to play them well, demonstrating a real knowledge of historical performance practice, is a real challenge to those not used to thinking outside the box. Interestingly enough, William Russell wrote Trumpet movements in Eb major and E minor! This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of John Keeble, whose 4 volumes of Select pieces offer fine alternatives to the more frequently played compositions of this period, his fugal writing in particular is second to none. Search out, practise, play, enjoy - and I can confirm that Nigel is absolutely correct in writing that congregations/audiences will do likewise!
  5. Alas, in many ways you could be right. A combination of trendy clerics and half-witted "songwriters" with neither the musical nor the theological acumen are taking over (mind you, I do quite like some of Stuart Townsend's songs which display a considerably higher standard of musicianship than most of Kendrick's slowdive curve into cyclical banality) and the sad thing is that most youngsters have never heard a canticle or psalm. Our church is fortunately far better than many in as much as we have a combination of good hymns to open and close the service with three songs in between. No-one has yet questioned my voluntaries or what I play during the Communion (Elevazione, Falsas and some later German Unter der Wandlung), neither do I expect them to, unlike some churches in the diocese in which one hears of all manner of horrors being thrust upon the longsuffering organist. Cromwell's descendent's are indeed alive and well in certain areas. We msut resist as long as we can by whatever method we can. John
  6. Very generally, there are many cases in the early period when notes were not intended to be held for the written/printed length, as can be seen from certain instances when fingering survives in a version stemming either from the composer or the scribe, who may well, of course, have been at several removes from the composer. The short and broken octave keyboards in historic instruments will certainly enable one to play tenths very easily. Printing was a costly affair well into the 18th century and the etxt was intended as a guidance in many cases rather than an obligation. Learning early fingering is well worth the considerable effort involved, especially if one looks at the conflicting and contradictory evidence in tratises about which fingers are deemed good and which bad ie which go on strong beats. In his preface of 1578 to Cabezón's Obras de Música, his son commenst that the Canciones Glosadas in 5 and 6 parts are so difficult that one should apply whichever fingering one finds most comfortable and easy!! And indeed M Praetorius tells us thta there is far too much written about this finegring or that being the better, as long as the effect is correct then use what you will! The long out of print book by Barry Ife and Barbara Sachs gives generally good translations of many early treatises. Regards for now, John
  7. Just out of interest, which edition of the Biblical Sonatas have you got? I have the old Denkmäler volume of the (at the time) complete Kuhnau, and the prefaces to all of his published volumes (written and reproduced in Gothic text) do take some unravelling! The sonatas are also fine music worth reviving. I translate from German, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian and am happy to translate small texts for people on this forum before charging- it's something I do for various colleges and conservatoires! More and more publishers do not include an ENglish tranlsation of the preface, which frequently deprives the non-linguist of essential information on performance practice. Alas, most European publishers I have approached are claiming extreme poverty (there IS a recession despite what governments may say!!). All best wishes, John Collins
  8. [The so-called facsimile edition of John Stanley organ voluntaries by, I think OUP, from the 1970s "helpfully" rewrites all the C-clef passages in modern clefs. The old Peters Edition of Bach organ works uses C clefs in many of the choral preludes as does, I think, the original Bach Gesellschaft, but Peters changes the Tenor Clef of the LH cantus firmus in Wachet Auf to the Bass Clef whilst preserving Bach's original Alto Clef for the RH obbligato. Alto and tenor clefs were much used in the 18th century including the prints by many of our own composers - John Marsh advsies the necessity of learning it in the preface to his 2nd book of Voluntaries ca 1795. For the RH the usual German practice was to place the C clef on the lowest line of the treble stave, although later the ithe 18th century editiosn were produced in both this and the treble clef on the second line. Notation and clef usage is fascinating; incidentally, Brahms and Chrysander deserve credit for preparing an edition of François Couperin's 4 books of harpsichord ordres, but many of the clefs were incorrectly transcribed by a third!! The early 20th century edition of Johann Walther's works incldues much use of the c clefs. I do agree that the old clefs can be troublesome and still find them tricky at times!
  9. The British idea is very good, which gives us Byrd, Bull and Gibbons - don't forget that Parthenia, ths first printed keyboard music in England, was issued in 1612-13 and contains pieces by these three. Tomkins is very good, and some of the lesser lights found in Robin Langley's excellent anthologies are well worth playing. Psalm preludes by Sweelinck (see Fitzwilliam virginal book for link to England) and Speuy provide continental variety with a close connection to the UK.
  10. John Collins


    Further anniversaries this year include William Boyce and John Keeble both born 1711, alas, only the first 3 of Keeble's 4 books of select pieces are available in a modern edition, they really do deserve to be far better known and played more frequently than they are. Also it's the 400th anniversary of the birth of Pablo Bruna, el ciego de Daroca, possibly the most important Spanish composer between Cabezón, Correa and the mercurial maestro Cabanilles whose anniversary is next year. I shall be playing all of Bruna's large-scale works as post-service voluntaries at my church this year, a good education on performance practice for my young page-turner and ideal preparation for Cabanilles next year!! The Spanish composers will doubtless not receive the attention they deserve in this country, a great pity as the hours of work required to play them well will be repaid many times even on the non-Iberian sounding English organ. WIll anyone else out there be immersing themselves in the Iberians?
  11. There is also a boxed set of facsimiles plus transcriptions of the preludes for carillon by Matthias van den Gheyn (1721-85) of Leuven. Other pieces from French composers not previously mentioned, as far as I can see, include "Carillons ou cloches" from the livre de Noëls of Pierre Dandrieu and the Carillon appended to the livre de Noëls by Michel Corrette.
  12. According to the hymns for the ecclesiastical year according to the order at Hamburg 1587, the hymn set for St.Stephen's Day is A solis Ortus Cardine (or, Germanicised, Christum wir sollen loben schon) - there are good settings by Scheidemann, Scheidt (Tab Nova III), Hieronymus Praetorius and Michael Praetorius. Since it is H. P's 450th anniversary year I may well play his setting, otherwise it will be Scheidt (after the carol service on the 19th they are getting his setitng of Veni redemptor gentium). Do many people play Scheidt today?? Happy and musical Christmas to all members, John Collins, Worthing
  13. [Addendum: The page says that for customers outside the euro-zone the minimum order is 100€. On checking the British Library catalogue there is an edition of 1991 by Bèrben Edizioni Musicali of Ancona, but this item is not listed in their current catalogue. You can order photocopies of the original from the BL, its full title is: "Handel’s Hallelujah in the Messiah, and Grand Coronation Anthem; to which are prefix’d Two New Fugues; the whole adapted & composed for 2 Performers on one Organ or Harpsichord by J. Marsh" published by R Bremner in 1783. There are about 16 pages, the cost for up to 100 pages is about £32 which is still much cheaper than 100 Euros!! Good luck!!
  14. Vox Humana, many thanks indeed for your comprehensive and well-written reply. It is fascinating to see and hear how modern scholars still disagree on inflections; when studying Frescobaldi in particular (he, like most of the early Italians, saw his music into print personally, so no MSS for us to wrestle with) with Colin Tilney he would disagree with Gustav Leonhardt's application of accidentals, particularly in a cadence such as F-G-F#-G wherethe first F may, or may not, be sharpened. The new edition by Chris Stembridge incldues many suggested inflections. I do wonder sometimes whether we now spend far too much time on theory rather than on playing this wonderful music, although an in-depth knowledge of performance practice is essential for a good performance today.
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